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Joshua A. Barro ’05 hustles into the Adams House dining hall in a crisp, dark gray suit and crimson tie. He’s tired. He’s just spent the day searching for endorsements from Harvard student groups, and has only gotten that of the Harvard Republican Club (HRC).
Barro and his running mate Christina L. Adams ’06 are conservative candidates. They’re longtime Undergraduate Council members, running on a platform that centers around publicizing and seeking to build on their past accomplishments.
And while other candidates have sites bashing competitors or friends dressing up in bird suits, the Barro-Adams ticket’s most radical campaign poster is a toss-up between “Reason 69: Giggle” and “Reason 53: Free Beer.”
At the beginning of the semester the two sat down and brainstormed why people should vote for them, and compiled a list of 100 reasons—33 things they’ve accomplished, and 67 that they will.
“We looked at the list and there were a lot of things we wanted to do,” Adams said. “We are running because we want to make everything that the UC does, done efficiently.”
Barro, a member of the Republican Club who is considering a future in politics, believes that his and Adams’ experience on the council helps make them a very strong team, and that they are ready to move from leading committees to leading the council as a whole.
“Other candidates have been things on the UC, but we’ve actually done things,” said Barro.
1-33: “Our Record”
Nearly all the candidates are vowing to “improve campus life,” but Barro and Adams say that they have a specific outline for how to do it, and strong experience in College finances that they say will help them make it happen.
Barro has served on the council’s Finance Committee for three semesters, as chair for the past two. During his tenure, the committee increased the budget for student groups from $145,000 to $180,000.
He says this will help him win votes from members of both the HRC and the Harvard College Democrats—even though only the HRC has officially endorsed him, because of his past experience and commitment to helping student groups.
“We really liked that they have a past track record working for student groups and believe that they will ensure that student groups get the funding they need,” says Mark T. Silvestri ’05, HRC spokesperson.
Adams also brings council leadership experience to the table. She served last year as services vice-chair for the council’s Campus Life Committee (CLC), and now she is the CLC’s social vice-chair. Under her tenure, the committee initiated Dollar Movie Nights, which have featured such films as The Pirates of the Caribbean and Finding Nemo. Now, she wants to bring to campus movies that haven’t even been released yet, like MIT’s sneak preview nights.
Barro has worked to redistribute council funds, so that the largest groups—those he sees as having the greatest student impact—receive the most funding.
“Now the largest groups on campus have seen a dramatic increase in grants by the UC,” Barro says.
Barro also instituted a grant application process with several deadlines, which would allow groups to secure funds even at the last minute. Another initiative— allowing all applicants an interview in front of a Finance subcommittee—eliminated bias in grant-giving, he says.
“Josh single-handedly did a statistical analysis to show that what was determining how much a student group got was not based on need but [on the committee] who was advocating for them,” said council Finance Committee Vice-Chair Joe R. Oleveri ’04.
Adams also has experience in the realm of council finances—she has generated small profits from airport shuttle programs and obtained corporate sponsorships and donations for Dollar Movie Night, Harvard-Yale t-shirts and Battles of the Bands.
Though Adams says she supports bringing big-name bands to campus, the money may be better spent elsewhere.
The $25,000 needed to move a step above a band like Guster should go to student groups, she says.
34-100: The Platform
The remaining 67 points on the list Barro and Adams drew up this fall are what they say they have in store for Harvard, should they be elected.
One of their many plans for the College is to start an “Issues of the Month” program. Every month, student-led forums would tackle issues such as the 2 a.m. party curfew or lack of study space in the Quad.
Beyond simply corralling large groups of students to complain about the campus without any resolution, Adams says she plans to have relevant administrators on hand to resolve specific problems.
In an attempt to garner the large first-year vote, Adams says the pair hopes to expand the Council’s support of House gyms to the Yard, by pressing for a mini-gym to be added to one of the first-year dorm basements.
“We don’t think first-years should have to walk all the way to the MAC to work out,” Adams says.
In light of the recent sexual and physical assaults in the area, Barro and Adams devoted an entire section on their website to the issue of safety.
They propose the creation of a student liaison to work with the City of Cambridge on such issues as improving lighting on Cambridge Common; the liaison would also attend Licensing Commission meetings to press for Square businesses to stay open later.
“Many businesses, such as Tommy’s House of Pizza, would like to serve students at later hours, but are denied permission by the commission, which hears from neighbors who oppose later hours but not from those who want them: students,” the website says.
Get This Party Started
Barro and Adams seek to expand Harvard social life both on and off campus.
“Boston Nights” would allow students with a valid Harvard ID to get free or reduced admission into various cultural events in Boston, ranging from museums and theatrical productions, to clubs and restaurants.
“We want the city to be more accessible and inviting to students. When I was a freshman we went to the Loews at the park a few times, but that was about it,” Adams says.
As for on-campus social events, Adams and Barro want to harness Harvard students’ competitive spirit by rewarding students with cash for the best party each weekend.
“We see two real problems with Harvard students; one, they don’t throw enough parties; two, they’re too competitive,” Barro says. “So why not make throwing parties competitive?”
Another gaping hole in on-campus social life is the absence of a student center—for now. Adams says she sees untapped potential in Loker Commons.
“We want students to utilize Loker Commons,” she says.
Loker should host happy hours on alternate Friday evenings, featuring snacks, soft drinks and alcohol—for those students who qualify.
Campus musicians should perform there more often, she says, and they intend to press the Loker Grill to open between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m., to provide first-years an equivalent to the grille in Quincy House.
“We think freshmen should have an option to eat in just like the upperclassmen do for late night snacks,” Adams says.
Barro and Adams believe that their past experience on the council helps them understand the time commitment required to enact these changes.
“It’s probably not a good indication of my social life that I bump into people at parties, hear their names and think, ‘Did you apply for a grant?” Barro says.
But he says his inability to stop thinking about council funding could be an asset.
“That’s one of the things that comes with the position, I guess.”
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